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    U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
    Camp Eason ‐ Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU)

    US Government Senior Leaders Visit the Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU) Team 3
    Written by LT Thornton, MMU3 PIO Staff

    On February 24, 2015, Commissioned Corps Officers of the USPHS at the MMU held a welcoming ceremony for Department of Health and Human Services senior leaders.
    Leadership visited Camp Eason to tour the MMU and meet the Corps officers who staff it. The distinguished guests who made the 5000 mile journey were, Ambassador Jimmy
    Kolker, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Global Affairs, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Ms. Dawn O’connell, Deputy Chief of Staff; they were also joined by Doug Mercado, USAID DART Lead.



    (left to right) RADM Boris Lushniak, CO USPHS CC Liberia, Mr. Doug Mercado USAID DART, Carol Han, US Embassy Public Affairs, Ambassador
    Kolker, Assistant Secretary Global Affairs, Dr. Desalvo, Assistant Secretary for Health, Ms Dawn O’connell, Deputy Chief of Staff for HHS, CAPT
    Dean Coppola, MMU Officer In Charge (OIC), CAPT Sean Boyd, MMU Deputy OIC. Photo taken in the MMU Command Tent.


    All the senior leaders expressed their personal heartfelt gratitude, shared well wishes from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and relayed the appreciation of all those back in the states for what is being done here at the MMU.

    Distinguished guests were shown MMU PPE donning (i.e. putting stuff on) procedures as well as doffing (i.e. taking stuff off) procedures. Senior officials were quite amazed at the detail oriented protocols and safety/monitoring practices at the MMU, praising the Officers of all MMU teams for keeping themselves and each other safe. The tour ended with a walk outside the gates of the MMU to allow officials to see the ambulance entry gates to the MMU and a better vantage point of the biohazardous waste incinerators. The tour ultimately led Ambassador Kolker, Dr. DeSalvo and Ms. O’connell to the survivor wall, a location where every MMU Ebola survivor and their families and friends are met by MMU staff in a celebration of life.

    Dr. DeSalvo attended a question and answer session with all the Officers of MMU team 3. Dr. DeSalvo put all the officers at ease with her approachable demeanor and genuine heartfelt responses when addressing the many questions that officers had for her. The ASH, inspired and motivated everyone, and left the Officers of Team 3 with a sense of pride in their leader.



    (top photo) Dr. Desalvo engages officers during an hour long question and answer session. (bottom photo) USPHS officers applaud Dr. Desalvo after she answers an officer’s question with a simple, genuine, but undoubtedly firm, I have your [the Commissioned Corps] back.

    The time spent with the distinguished guests from HHS was a great opportunity for Officers to shine and take pride in what they are doing in West Africa; and to showcase to Senior Officials from HHS all that has been accomplished since the MMU opened. This was a monumental occasion for PHS officers to meet some of the key figures that supported the USPHS in answering the ask of the White house and the Liberian people, and for Senior Officials to meet the Officers in the filed who are dedicated to serving the underserved and vulnerable.
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    Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU) Team 3 – Running Strong
    Written by LT Thornton, MMU3 PIO Staff

    February 21, 2015A little over two weeks ago, Change of Command ceremony on February 7, 2015 commemorated the transition of leadership from MMU Team 2 to MMU Team 3. During the ceremony, CAPT James Dickens, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of MMU Team 2, officially turned over the reins by passing the Mission’s Guidon to CAPT Dean Coppola, OIC, MMU Team 3. The passing of the Mission’s Guidon is a time honored tradition signifying the transfer of responsibility associated with command. Paraphrasing the words of both the outgoing and incoming OIC’s, much has been accomplished and much more remains to be done. As Team 2 stood down and relinquished their duties, Team 3 stepped up to assume those responsibilities and build on successes of the teams CAPT Dickens passes the Guidon to CAPT Coppola that came before. This was a truly joyous and humbling moment for individual officers on both teams. As one team took up the mantle of providing hope for healthcare workers in Liberia who may have contracted the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the other team looked forward to returning to their loved ones after a job well done.


    MMU Team 3 (left) and MMU Team 2 (right) in formation at Change of Command Ceremony


    Team 2 yells and cheers as Team 3 walks off the busses and into the Living Support Area.

    However, we would be missing a significant part of the story if we did not briefly highlight the events that led up to the change of command between MMU Team 2 and Team 3. Team 3 participated in pre-deployment training in Anniston, Al developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and hosted by Department of Homeland Security. During this training a small number of Team 3 officers contracted influenza and, like the good public health officers we are, we mitigated risk by implementing some simple precautions, to include putting the entire team on Tamiflu. We also delayed departure a few extra days to ensure not only that Team 3’s officers would be in the best condition when we hit the ground in Africa, but also, so that Team 2 would not be put at any risk and could return home safely. All the while, Team 2 excitedly planned and prepared for Team 3’s arrival, drafting and organizing SOP’s and setting up transition schedules. To make a long story short, Team 3 boarded a plane and was recalled to Atlanta, GA after 3 plus hours of flight time over the Atlantic. The change in plans would ground Team 3 in the U.S. for 3 more days. It goes without saying that, after being delayed almost a week, Team 2 was just as excited for Team 3’s arrival as Team 3 was to have finally arrived.

    Steadfast Treatment

    The MMU has seen 37 patients since its doors opened, 19 of which have been positive for Ebola. Team 3 is the first MMU team to assume command of the MMU with confirmed Ebola positive patients admitted; so from the start it was full speed ahead. In fact, training at other ETU’s in Liberia, a common practice with previous MMU teams, was not necessary since our transition training included Memorial for patients seen at the MMU. Drawing of an MMU providing care for Ebola positive patients photo done by Team 1 Officers within our very own unit. Team 2 did an extraordinary job with the transition; passing along concepts and practices established by Team 1 and adding their own experiences and enhancements. The foundation provided during the CDC and USPHS pre-deployment training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, coupled with the in-country experience and training provided by team 2, set the pace for team 3.



    MMU Team 2 leading practical training of MMU team 3 for doffing as part of the transition training.



    MMU Team 3 night shift LCDR’s Bellama (left) and Bonislawski (right) inspecting each item of PPE before putting it on. Night shift Nurse Lead CDR Cindy Adams is assisting with doffing.

    It was bittersweet when team 2 departed early on February 7th. We had quickly bonded with our fellow Officers and worked well together during training. Yet, we were also eager to take the reins and do what we had been called upon to do. Team 3 quickly took to caring for our patients and running the MMU with an enthusiasm and vitality that comes with any new task and undertaking. Additionally, the unit had many outside groups visit the MMU, including, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Disaster Assistance and Response Team (DART), CDC, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Army, Directors from other ETU’s, such as the International Organization of Migration and Aspen Medical. All wanted to see the MMU, the facility that not only was caring for Health Care Workers (HCW) stricken with EVD but also bolstered the confidence of the Liberian and Dr. Wasambla, Director of the Tubmanberg ETU international HCW community to take a stronger stand against Ebola; knowing that the U.S. Public Health Service manning the MMU had their backs if they became ill with EVD symptoms.

    Enduring Hope

    Caring for healthcare workers so they, in turn, can care for Ebola patients throughout the region is a noble mission and one not to be taken lightly. We are providing hope and a commitment to care for those who are fighting Ebola on the front lines in Liberia. The Team understood the gravity of our mission and how deadly and unforgiving Ebola Virus Disease is while training, yet nothing can reinforce that reality like treating Ebola positive patients. However, like the MMU teams before us, and all our Ebola fighting peers to date, we stand strong in our commitment to service and the optimism and hope we have for each and every patient. Early in our mission our resolve was tested with the passing of one of our patients, a patient who fought from the day of admission by Team 2 until the day he passed. When that battle was lost, we ensured dignity and cultural sensitivity was observed, we witnessed the family’s strength through faith, and we consoled one another. That deep feeling of loss was palpable in the days that followed, yet we pressed on, because we still had patients who were depending on us. Hearts heavy with loss, our EVD positive patient, was improving dramatically, fueled us both to continue healing ourselves and each other. And heal we all did, especially when Marphen Yardolo walked out of the Confirmed Ward MMU on the 17th of February to be welcomed back to her family and the world. She was now the 9th Ebola survivor from the MMU.

    As of February 21, the MMU continued to experience a growing surge of interest among government agencies and senior officials, NGO’s, Embassy Staff and Congressional staff. Although Ebola embers continue to burn throughout the affected countries, this increasing number of tours is an obvious sign of progress made toward eradicating Ebola in Liberia specifically, and West Africa too. We have established great working relationships with sister Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), including two run by International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Buchanan and Tubmanberg, who committed to helping us supplement our clinical staff if our patient numbers increase. Visits from congressional staff and HHS Assistant Secretaries has allowed senior U.S. Government representatives to meet and converse with MMU Team 3 officers and see the importance and value of this mission first-hand. Another unique aspect of the mission is direct engagement, by invitation, with other countries’ deployed forces, specifically the Ukrainian Detached Helicopter Unit and the Chinese and German ETU’s. Our officers have been able to attend significant functions and events, further enhancing our U.S. diplomatic and technical relationships.

    A Story in the Making…

    It is evident that while each team serves to execute a similar mission, each team so far has had, and will continue to have, some distinctly different experiences while in Liberia. To that end Team 3 eagerly meets each day with enthusiasm and unbridled optimism knowing we are still writing our story.
    by Published on 12-19-2012 10:01 AM
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    DCCPR responsed to a request from the state of Connecticut by deploying a team of 28 USPHS mental health providers from Mental Health Team (MHT) #4 (with augmentation from MHT#3, MHT#5 and Services Access Team (SAT) #3) to provide services and consultation for a total of 8 missions in and around Newtown, CT.
    by Published on 12-16-2012 11:24 AM
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    Before Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) exist as they do today, the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service formed the first prototype DMAT's for the rest of the nation; one located in Rockville, MD and the other at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. These first DMAT's, formed in the mid 1980's, were largely stabilization (triage) units, staffed with emergency room physicians and nurses, paramedics, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's). But in contrast to the civilian DMAT teams of today, the PHS-1 DMAT and PHS-2 DMAT were structured to provide primary medical care, emergency community outreach, and preventive medicine. Therefore, they were also staffed with sub-units, containing mental health, laboratory, preventive medicine and dental expertise. These PHS DMAT's also included a fixed command structure with logistics and administration functions. These pioneering PHS DMATs, mostly staffed by USPHS Commissioned Corps officers, were a proof of concept for DHHS; that temporary volunteer teams could provide disaster response within a few hours in various places CONUS and OCONUS (outside the Continental United States). The two pioneering DMAT teams merged in 1993, forming PHS-1 DMAT, and eventually all other civilian DMAT teams that formed around the country. At that point, the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) as we know it today, was part of the U.S. Public Health Service.


    PHS-1 DMAT deployed and supported multiple missions, gaining experience and honing response technique. Among the many responses were Hurricanes Hugo (1989), Andrew/Iniki (1992), Fran (1996), and Georges (1998); Midwest Floods (1993), Northridge Earthquake (1994), Southeast Floods (1994), Oklahoma City Bombing (1995), Olympics (1996), G-8 Summit (1997), North Dakota Floods (1997), New York Ice Storm (1998), NATO Meeting (1999), Army support to the 85th Medical Battalion from 1985-1991, support to Army National Guard Units from 1985 - 1999 (MD, DC, PA, VA, MA, FL), Honduras (1993) and Guatemala (1999), Navy support to USNS Comfort (1991) and to the National Naval Medical Center (1998).

    In 2003, the NDMS was transferred to the newly created Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This transfer created a situation that limited the ability of the PHS-1 DMAT to deploy because the PHS-1 DMAT was mostly comprised of officers of the Commissioned Corps who were not under DHS's direct administrative control. Despite this setback, the PHS-1 DMAT hung together through sheer force of will; its team members conducted monthly meetings and training exercises. This situation persisted until 2006 when the Tier-level Commissioned Corps response teams were formed. In order to form the first Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) teams, the Office of Force Readiness and Deployment (OFRD) essentially asked the PHS-1 DMAT to divide into two as-yet unnamed RDF teams in order to form an experienced core of leadership within those Washington, D.C. area RDF's.

    The first two RDF's evolved as larger versions of the civilian DMAT's, containing the same preventive medicine and mental health capabilities as the original PHS-1 and PHS-2 DMAT's. At that point, Applied Public Health Teams (APHT's) and Mental Health Teams (MHT's) had not been formed. It seemed only natural to retain the "PHS-" prefix to honor the RDF teams' origins. Thus today, RDF-1 and RDF-2 hold true to this history by referring to themselves as PHS-1 RDF and PHS-2 RDF. The basis for doing so is also founded in the battalion-style unified command structure that influences present day response teams as numerically ordered sub-units. For example, Battalion 1 includes PHS-1 RDF, PHS-1 APHT, PHS-1 MHT, etc., and Battalion 2 includes PHS-2 RDF, PHS-2 APHT, PHS-2 MHT, and so on, through all five Battalions; -1, -2, -3, -4 and -5. Although most visible are the PHS-1 RDF and PHS-2 RDF, this naming convention does not set these teams apart as anything different or special; all teams may use the PHS-# naming convention. A few references to the OFRD's present day unit names are historically preserved in documents referenced here: Contacts Readiness and Response Program Engineer's Deployment Guide OFRD Deployment Roster OFRD Deployment Role and Response Team Selection/Application

    Corps response teams are unique. No civilian teams address the universal need in any public health disaster to put well-rounded expertise on the ground within hours of a disaster. In fact, every disaster response should be considered multidimensional, where root cause analysis applies public health principles through a public health team to achieve the very best approaches to wellness, preventive medicine, mental health, triage, ambulatory care, clinical and long-term care.

    -PHSChat recognizes CAPT Calvin Edwards, PHS-2 RDF, for his willingness to provide assistance with this article.
    Published on 12-16-2012 10:59 AM
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    As reported by VADM Regina Benjamin, MD, US Surgeon General, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Interior are working together with the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHC) to improve medical care for the residents of the Commonwealth. The team, led by RADM Newton Kendig (Federal Bureau of Prisons - BOP), is providing technical assistance to the hospital and direct patient care. Additional team members include CAPT Lisa Hogan, nurse manager (BOP); CDR Daniel Hesselgesser, clinical laboratory manager (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - CMS); CDR Sylvie Cohen, physician/safety officer (BOP); CDR Kathleen Dotson, pharmacy manager (BOP);and LT Lane Vause, medical technologist (CMS).

    Two news stories profile the team and its mission: HHS team visits Saipan Hospital and Feds send in medical staff to CHC for 90 days. In the coming weeks, HHS and the USPHS Commissioned Corps will send four additional officers based on the initial assessment of the team and the needs of the facility to provide critical technical assistance to the hospital and high quality care to CNMI residents.
    Published on 11-24-2012 08:39 AM
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    FEMA showcases the Federal Medical Station in Brooklyn:



    The following videos feature U.S. Public Health Service officers providing health care in a Brooklyn hospital to 100 nursing home patients who were evacuated during Hurricane Sandy.


    The First 48 Hours in Brooklyn
    Published on 11-15-2012 09:46 PM
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    NEW YORK – The Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn opened their doors to more than 90 nursing home patients who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy.



    Three area nursing homes sustained major damage when super storm Sandy hit New York, Oct. 29, forcing residents to find shelter elsewhere.

    “The damaged nursing homes were identified and the New York Public Health Department asked us to step in,” said Lt. Michael Muni, a Public Information Officer at the United States Public Health Service.

    “This is the first time we set up a federal medical shelter within a hospital environment,” said Capt. Calvin Edwards, Team Commander of PHS Rapid Deployment Force 2. “Normally it’s a shelter of opportunity. That would be a gym floor, a convention center or some other place that has heat and lighting and a wide open space.”

    PHS is made up of 6,600 Commissioned Corps officers who stay on call to respond to public health needs.

    “Shortly after the storm hit we knew the community was impacted significantly, and fortunately the hospital had minimal damage,” said Mark Toney, president and CEO of Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. “Our senior management team thought that we should be opening our doors to serve the community. We had the capacity and we wanted to open it up.”

    “Some of the patients were transferred from shelters where they were sleeping in their wheelchairs,” said Toney.

    Brookdale faced the challenge of readying two floors that had been closed for many years, said Toney.

    “It had become the storage area for the hospital,” said Toney. “Within a 48-hour period, we actually brought all our employees together and opened up a floor and a half of the hospital, giving us 100 extra beds.”

    When the first patients arrived, the paint was still drying on some of the walls, said Muni.

    PHS medical professionals are providing all the medical and administrative support for the nursing home patients.

    “About half the patients need 100 percent care with the activities of daily living,” said Edwards. “There are also some mental health issues that we see folks have. Those are the big things.”

    “We are really happy to be able to serve,” said Edwards. “None of us do this full time. We have our regular active duty job, plus we come do this. We come from all medical disciplines, and then we come together as a team to provide services to folks.”

    U.S. Navy story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicholas S. Tenorio
    Original article: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/97706/s...ice-open-doors
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